Joseph Douaihy (a remarkable Santino Fontana) and his brother Charles (an excellent Chris Perfetti) are gay, Lebanese, and distantly related to Kahlil Gibran author of THE PROPHET where the catch-phrase “All is Well” seems to be the panacea for every problem.
Playwright Stephen Karam has fashioned an interesting, low key, very funny and sometimes gripping new slice of life play SONS OF THE PROPHET dealing with pain and suffering after this tome which is directed in an almost lethargic manner by Peter DuBois.
The brothers live in Nazareth Pennsylvania. Being gay is the least of the many problems plaguing these siblings. In fact it isn’t a problem at all. Charles is out but has problems hearing as he was born with one ear that has been surgically replicated. He is open about all he does and says and hears.
Joseph has knee problems, wears braces and limps. Their father has recently died as a result of a heart attack brought about or maybe not by a car accident when Vin (Jonathan Louis Dent – “a mulato”) who on a dare put up a deer decoy which caused said accident.
Joseph is also beset by a series of strange symptoms which has made him take a job at a small publishing company so that he can get health insurance coverage, run by a rich, deranged woman – Gloria (a wacky Joanna Gleason) who has a couple of bad habits: drugs, showing up unexpectedly and receiving phony phone calls when she needs to avoid certain situations. Her husband has recently committed suicide.
Uncle Bill (Yusef Bulos) uses a walker and has respiratory problems – traipsing around with oxygen tubes. But that doesn’t stop him from wisecracking in the best politically incorrect Archie Bunker style. He’s moved in with the boys and has a tiny downstairs bathroom where the door doesn’t close completely.
Joseph meets up accidentally – or is it? with reporter Timothy (Charles Socarides) at a bus station waiting for the snow to stop. He is also gay. They strike up a friendship. Timothy wants to cover the “accident” and family connection to the author of The Prophet and Gloria wants to make her big comeback with its publication.
Vin has written an apology which is read aloud at a school board meeting that bleeds out into the audience in a very amusing scene with Lizbeth Mackay and Dee Nelson – but is it so that he can play on the team or is it heartfelt? Is he also using the family?
Playwright Stephen Karam puts a lot on his plate. Lots for the audience to digest. It deals with many subjects – symbolic and otherwise. You will think and feel and perhaps identify uncomfortably with all the suffering on stage. Suffering that is peppered with satirical and not so subtle barbs with overlapping dialogue and very true to life situations.
Laughter may be the best medicine and Mr. Karam seems to have us believe, and rightfully so, that to get through all the pain and suffering one has to have a sense of humor to survive.
Extended through Jan. 1st at the Roundabout Laura Pels Theatre. www.roundabouttheatre.org
Photo: Joan Marcus
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